A child hugs his mother as she gets vaccinated against Covid-19 during a vaccination day in Colombia.
Long visual press | Universal picture group | Getty Images
Pfizer and BioNTech will provide the US government with an additional 500 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to be donated to low and middle-income countries.
The move announced on Wednesday represents an extension of the companies’ existing agreement with the U.S. government to provide additional doses of vaccine at a charitable price to less-favored nations, bringing the total number of doses made available for donation to one country Billion.
In accordance with the original agreement, the U.S. government will assign doses of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid vaccine to 92 low and lower middle income countries and the 55 member states of the African Union, Pfizer said in a press release on Wednesday.
Shipments of the first 500 million cans began in August, and the total of 1 billion cans under the expanded agreement are expected to be delivered by the end of September 2022, the company added.
The first cans allocated under this program arrived in Rwanda in mid-August and since then more than 30 million cans have been shipped to 22 countries.
Pfizer and BioNTech have an existing agreement to deliver vaccine doses to the COVAX Facility, a mechanism set up by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization that aims to provide poorer countries with early access to Covid- 19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, developed countries like the US and Europe have ample supplies of Covid vaccines since a number of vaccine candidates were developed and approved for emergency use at breakneck speed last year before being introduced in mass vaccination campaigns targeting their general population.
While the majority of adults in the US and Europe are now fully vaccinated, millions of people around the world do not have such easy access to Covid vaccines, which greatly reduce the risk of serious Covid infection, hospitalization and death.
In the US, according to CDC data, 64.1% of the population over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, while in the UK 81.9% of people over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, according to data from the UK government. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control in the EU, 71.7% of adults are fully vaccinated.
Our World in Data numbers show that 43.5% of the world’s population have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, while only 2% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.